By: The My Medicare Matters Team
This article is the second installment in our “Conversations with Your Doctor” series, which covers some of the important discussions adults and caregivers should have with your doctor about aging. To stay up-to-date on the latest blog posts, subscribe to our mailing list.
As a caregiver, you’re one of the first people to notice when your loved one’s health or behavior starts to change. They may start to seem lonely or depressed, become forgetful and confused, or maybe they are having increased difficulty with daily activities like walking or bathing. There are so many changes that occur with aging, it’s hard to know which may be an important health concern to discuss with your loved one’s doctor. The truth is, there is no secret formula to health issues. If you notice changes in your loved one’s behavior or emotions discuss it with their physician.
Here are a few tips to help guide you through the next appointment your loved one has with their doctor and how to discuss concerns you may have.
1. Allow your loved one to voice their concerns during the appointment.
While you may have concerns you want to discuss at the appointment, remember that this appointment is for your loved one and the health issues they are experiencing, so allow them to voice their concerns first. Once they have asked any questions they have, feel free to mention your concerns after. Also, allow them to respond to questions the doctor may have about health issues they are experiencing and when appropriate, chime in on responses or with additional questions.
2. Prepare in advance for the appointment.
Before the appointment begins decide on 3 or 4 questions or concerns you want to discuss with the doctor. They may not be able to go over everything, so choose things that you feel are most important. Discuss with your loved on additional logistics of the appointment like if they want to meet privately with their doctor.
3. Decide the best way to communicate your concerns.
If you have questions or concerns for the doctor that may upset your loved one, step out of the room to converse privately. Many doctors are now available via email, so any questions that weren’t addressed during the appointment you could still get answered later.
4. Ask about the impact medications may have on your loved one’s health.
Most older adults take at least one prescription medication and research shows that the more medications a person takes, the greater the risk of experiencing a medication-related health problem. To avoid potential health risk, make sure the dosage is being monitored closely. Pay close attention to your loved one once they begin taking new prescriptions and confirm with the doctor that their medications can be taken together and won’t cause any side effects.
5. If your loved one has experienced any of the following, discuss it with the doctor immediately:
- A fall
- Changes in physical appearance. e.g. drastic increase or decrease in weight, neglecting personal and home hygiene
- Lost or misplaced items on multiple occasions
- Forgetting to pay bills and missing appointments
- Unexpected changes in mood or behavior, e.g. limited social interaction, restlessness, pessimism
These can all be signs that your loved one may be experiencing other health issues, so make sure you discuss them with your doctor.
As a caregiver, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to assist you in caring for your loved one, but one of the best is your doctor. They are available to provide insight into health condition and help develop a plan for your loved one to age well. Your physician can also refer you to health and community services that can assist with caregiving, so use the resources available to keep you and your loved one healthy for years to come.